Duterte goes live on Facebook to dispel coma rumors


MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte Monday denied that he is seriously ill and assailed communist leader Jose Maria "Joma" Sison for saying that he is in a coma.

In a Facebook live video uploaded to dispel rumors that he is sick, Duterte said Sison is the one suffering from illness.

"I'm alive—fairly healthy and I'm having dinner with a beautiful lady from Davao. She's Vernice, she's on leave from Harvard. I invited her to discuss some things along the way," the president said in the nearly five-minute video posted by his aide Christopher Go.

He was referring to his female visitor who had dinner with him in a hotel in Davao City.

"I am still okay. He (Sison) said I'm comatose? How can you be comatose with a beautiful lady. If I were comatose and I see Vernice, I would really rise. That's it. You are the one who is comatose. You are the one who is sick," Duterte added.

The president mocked Sison and wished him long life.

"Joma, ang wish ko sa buhay, maski wala ka nang silbi sa mundong ito, mabubuhay ka pa rin ng mga 1,000 years para ikot ng ikot ka na lang dito sa mundo (I wish you will live for 1,000  years even if you no longer have a purpose so you can roam around aimlessly on earth)," he said.

"I think you are the reincarnation of the guy... it's a biblical... I don't know if it's in a book in the Bible. He's a guy who's been around walking around the planet Earth. And he's not dying."

Duterte was referring to the Wandering Jew, a legendary character who was doomed to walk on earth until the end of the world because he taunted Jesus. 

Duterte claimed that the Netherlands is already complaining about the expenses of Sison. The rebel leader has been on self-exile in the European country since 1987.

"You frequent the hospital without paying your bills. You're not paying and you're abusing the hospitality of the Netherlands," Duterte said.

The president said he would bring Sison to jail if he returns to the Philippines.

"If you think that you are sick, come home and I will bring you to the place—it's called Bilibid. There, we will provide you with a space: a bed and... plenty to keep you company," he added.  Alexis Romero


As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: January 21, 2020 - 9:51pm

Malacañang denies claims, such as that of Communist party founder Joma Sison on Sunday, that President Rodrigo Duterte has been in comatose.

Sison cited a "latest report" that is yet "to be verified or negated" in saying that Duterte has gone into coma late Sunday.

"The president is healthy. He's fine," says presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.

January 21, 2020 - 9:51pm

A new SWS poll shows that seven in 10 Filipinos worry about President Duterte's health and six in 10 say the state of his health is a public matter.

The December 2019 survey found that 72% of adult Filipinos are worried (consisting of 25% worried a great deal and 47% somewhat worried) while 28% saying they are not worried (15% somewhat not worried, 13% not worried at all) about the president's health.

This is similar to June 2019 when 74% were worried and 26% were not worried about Duterte's health, SWS says.

The survey also found that 61% of Filipinos believe Duterte's state of health is a public matter and that the public should be informed of everything about it. Some 37%, however, believe that it is a private matter.

"This is similar to September 2018 when 61% said the President's state of health is a public matter, and 33% said it is a private matter," SWS adds.

The fourth quarter 2019 Social Weather Survey was conducted from Dec. 13-16, 2019 using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults nationwide: 300 each in Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The poll has sampling error margins of ±3% for national percentages and ±6% each for Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

October 25, 2019 - 10:39am

Malacañang says there is no need to issue a medical bulletin on President Duterte's health days after telling the public that the chief executive will share the results of his medical consultation.

"It comes only when there is serious illness, that’s the constitutional provision," presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo says.

Duterte cut his Japan trip last Tuesday due to back pain brought about his motorcycle accident last October 16.

October 23, 2019 - 8:24am

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo assures the public that President Duterte will share results of his medical consultation after the chief executive cut his Japan trip due to back pain.

May 19, 2019 - 3:14pm

Former presidential aide Christopher Go has released photos to show President Duterte is not in the hospital.

May 19, 2019 - 1:14pm

The Palace says rumors that President Rodrigo Duterte is in Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan are not true.

The 74-year-old president's time away from the public eye has repeatedly raised questions about his health. The Palace has also repeatedly said that the president is fine and that it will inform the public in case he is seriously ill.

In October 2018, three Palace officials made similar denials when it was rumored that Duterte was in Cardinal Santos. The president later disclosed that he did go to the hospital for tests

Previous absences from public events have been explained as the president resting, doing paperwork, or watching movies online.

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